Show yourself. Do not hide behind the props of your affected persona. That Star Wars underwear belongs bunched up around your ankles, not in the prominence reserved for the movement and electricity of your atoms. That guitar you hold so seductively, so provocatively, means nothing to me until I hear you play it naked from across a room that smells of spilled whiskey and impassable distances. I do not want to love you because you have Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde tattooed along the curve of your hip; I want to love you because you are a warm place away from the cold. Do not attempt to be my fantasy. My fantasies consume dragons and the throats of angels. My fantasies shit out their wings. You would not survive. If you want to be my fantasy then deliver yourself unto me like Cleopatra unto Caesar and wrap yourself in a carpet to unroll at my feet, proclaim me king and die young.
Strive for truth as best you can. ‘The camera never lies’ is a laughable, almost pathetically endearing fallacy that has no place in our time. That you would define yourself for me in a photograph reeks of deception. You have already lied. The woman in the photo is never the same as the woman herself. You have advertised the one but can only offer the other. You will only end up breaking the heart of some lonely boy who expected a deviant angel but instead received you—you with your appallingly common hang-ups and neuroses, your slight overbite and father issues, your blackheads erased in Photoshop. Your target audience is a generation of men raised by superheroes and noble paladins, one-man armies and rock immortals who’ve flown to outer space on lightning bolts. They are already wearied and broken by a grey and bitter grown-up world that has done nothing but disappoint the expectancies of their indulgent youth. To disappoint them further would be cruel. To build up your self-esteem on their impotent worship of an idea that does not exist would be heinous. Let your own innate sexuality serve as your siren song; do not attempt to lure men into the rocks by teasing them with suggestions that you are impressed by their trivial knowledge of Saturday morning cartoons and skills at Magic: The Gathering.
Be exact with your photograph. Avoid pomp and do not be inauthentic. ‘Unnecessary flourish’ is redundant. Do not pose. A pose endears you to no one and reveals only yourself playing at something to which you have no claim, and all the world will see you withering on the vines of your pretension. You want to fuck? Then go fuck. Fuck like you were meant to fuck, with a head between your legs and your spine arched to its breaking point. Let yourself be aroused by the calluses on a man’s hands or the lingering scent of your pussy on his breath, and not by vintage EPs and framed movie posters. Save your mutual admiration for the films of Fellini for the day after, when you have need for conversation to save you both from the awkwardness of your tangled limbs and conjoined ribs.
Remember: those are real people on the other end of the camera, and chances are they have seen more than you have seen, have loved harder than you have loved, have been hurt deeper than you have been hurt, hurt in places the depths of which you cannot conceive. They are not impressed with your shit. Your smug sense of self-satisfied superiority with your NES console means nothing to a man who met his love on a crowded refugee boat tossed about by raging waters. The internet is not a place for solipsism. You are not a goddess and you do not have a vast, unyielding legion of adherents who live their lives around you. Be humble. You are not special.
The portrait is little more than raw data. A decoded visual approximation of yourself. Of a single person, no better or worse than anyone else. That people would give you, a stranger, their time and attention over others is a testament to your beauty. Do not insult that by dressing your beauty up in artifice. The self-portrait is not about you. If you think it is about yourself then go preen in a mirror and quit wasting everyone else’s time. It is about them. The people who will look upon your face and fall in love. Honor them by giving them truth in return. Honor them by making sure that the girl in the picture is the same as the girl whose picture was taken. They are tired and they don’t have time for your pedantry. If you are going to break their hearts, be worthy of having been handed them in the first place.
Act your age. Take the Sega controller and cord draped around the softly rising swell of your breasts and shut it away in the drawer with the ribbons and skull earrings, the Pokemon cards and other remnants of youth—you are a woman pandering to boys; if it is men who you want to love you in return then be aware you are playing with the wrong joystick.